Sunday, April 17, 2011

A million tulips in Brussels, Belgium...

If you like flowers, or at least your partner does, you can charm her/him with a visit here, at the chateau of Groot Bijgaarden, west of Brussels, just off the highway E40 to Oostende. I passed hundreds of times outside the venue in the past but never imagined the size of it, as I never visited it before in my life. This time though, the spouse was well informed (as always) and I was left in my ignorance thinking that my trip to Brussels would last as long as the planned visit to Sani for our Easter groceries: tsoureki, feta cheese, olive oil, tyropitas from the north-west of Greece, wine, lamb, and even melomakarona, and more goodies like that. Sani Imports is our Greek groceries supplier not far from the Brussels Center, at what they call the port of Brussels (yep, Brussels has got a (pathetic) port too, no comparison with Zeebrugge or Antwerp, folks).

On our way back, the spouse started her usual charming offensive, like, 'do you know how to get to Groot Bijgaarden', and 'you know there is a chateau with an open expo of thousands of tulips, they even showed on TV', etc... etc...etc... Long story short, instead of heading homewards, we ended up at the chateau ticket box to pay for our entrance fee, when deary spouse almost gave me a stroke by pretending to the cashier that we were seniors! I looked at her, ready to faint, and chuckled 'no f*cking way I am a freakin' senior'. The ticket lady, obviously a senior herself, said 'Seniors are above 60, I'm afraid... you don't look to me to be seniors, I'm afraid'. Didn't know whether to laugh or cry, and there we paid our regular adult tickets (nice try, my dear...), and entered the garden with a million tulips exposed along hundreds of thousands of more blossoming flowers. Obviously, I was visibly p*ssed as I was totally unprepared for that beauty and had left my serious photographic gear back home, with no other than the iPhone 4. What the heck. I'd shoot no matter what with.

It's difficult to describe the beauty, especially me who'll be the last person on earth being able to do this and keep you unbored and awake at the same time. Instead, see my shots at Flicker. Well, yes, I took these pictures with a bleedin' iPhone, believe it or not. I took about three hundred of them, of which I had to drop a few dull and unsharp shots, and quite a few with red tinted tulips, as the dynamic range of reds is pathetic on a cheap camera. Yellow and whites were descent though, with some red and orange here and there. Of course, Lightroom did the rest. There was no visit at the chateau, only the garden.

The whole thing was created by a certain Dutchman, Bakker is the name, famous for his tulip catalogs and business. He was there in person too, and the spouse enjoyed talking to him for a few minutes, while I was shooting the entrance to the chateau. Weather was great, not too sunny to force me shoot HDR, and the colors were stunning. Entrance was 10 euro for adults, 9 for seniors and maybe less for students and children. There were more foreigners than Belgians as I had heard all sorts of gibberish (Eastern Europe mainly) being spoken around me, other than our regular French and Dutch. Brussels, capital of Europe, you see...
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